Thursday, February 26, 2009

Silly British parents

Seems the BBC hired a slightly disabled woman to be co-host of a children's TV program, and a few parents aren't happy:

"When the BBC hired a pretty young actress to co-host a daily program for toddlers, it never expected viewers to complain that the young woman might give their children nightmares. “I didn't want to let my children watch the filler bits on the bedtime hour last night because I know it would have played on my eldest daughter's mind and possibly caused sleep problems,” wrote one viewer in an e-mail to the British television network after seeing Cerrie Burnell play games and read children’s stories. The viewer’s problem? Burnell was born with an incomplete right arm that ends in a stump below her elbow. According to a BBC report, most viewers have been supportive of Burnell, who took over a daily slot on the BBC’s children’s network, CBeebies, at the beginning of February with Alex Winters. But a handful have written to the station complaining about her disability. Some say she may frighten the children. Others accuse the network of going overboard in the interests of diversity. Some say they don’t want to have to address such issues with very young children."

Cerrie Burrell has a refreshing take on the whole issues, though, and good for her:

"Burnell, who has a 4-month-old daughter, seems unfazed by the controversy. “Children come up to me in the street every day and say 'What's that?' I wouldn't say they're frightened but certainly they're inquisitive,” she told BBC magazine. "I would always take the time to explain to a child. All they want is an explanation. They want to know 'What's that?' and 'What's happened?' and 'Why are you different?' And then they will move on."

She's exactly right. You simply explain the situation to children; and they're fine with it. I have personal experience with this. I have a condition called Moebius Syndrome. I won't go into all the details--but it makes your face look a little different--for example, my eyes are slightly crossed. But you know what? I'm a teacher, I've dealt with younger people and their little children all my life, and I have a young son of my own. And I've always had great relationships with kids, and of course especially my son. No "nightmares" there, for anyone.

These British parents need to get over their prejudices, and treat everyone as individuals. And yes, that's something with which every conservative I've ever met agrees.